2015 Classical Mega-Meta-List, part 2: "Bronze" (but just as brilliant)

Jan 21, 2016

When critics chose their favorite classical disks of 2015, they mentioned hundreds of albums at least once, several more than once, and a select few way more than that.  To get the details, my annual "mega-meta-list" tallied 67 best-of-year lists, which included over 160 writers from around the world. Last week, I posted their most frequent picks -  the 28 albums chosen by at least six writers and as many as eighteen. This week, I'm posting the next tier: the 28 albums chosen for four or five "best-of-2015" lists. And the CDs in this "Bronze" category seem to me every bit as excellent as the "Silver," "Gold," and "Blockbuster" albums posted last time.

 How can that be? As I explained last week, even a mega-meta-list can't find all the best releases, nor can it rank those it does find with scientific precision. List-makers might miss a gem that came out at the end of the year  (e.g. the Pittsburgh Beethoven disc below),  or that lacked a promo budget and was expensive to buy, or that crossed too many genre boundaries (you'll notice several of those in the "bronze" category). And critical fashions might over- or undervalue an artist in ways that will seem odd in a decade or two. Still, the list supports my main premise -  that 160+ minds are better than one at bringing our attention to great work that deserve to be celebrated. Here are more of their choices, in more-or-less alphabetical order. [NOTE: I deviated from alphabetical order to solve formatting problems. A day of effort by myself and NPR's excellent programmers couldn't fix the HTML errors - the source code LOOKS fine - so please bear with us and ignore the oddities that you'll probably see on non-mobile browsers. We figured it's better than making you wait longer to read this, right? Okay, here goes:]  ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________    

 

Credit anonymous4.com

  1865: Songs of Hope and Home from the American Civil War - Anonymous 4  with Bruce Molsky (Harmonia mundi 807549- In 1986, four women got together casually to sing medieval music. They humorously named their group after a medieval music theorist, took some paying gigs, and in 1992 made a recording, An English Ladymass. It became the first album of early medieval music to hit the Billboard top 10. International tours ensued, as did more recordings, three of which made the Billboard top 15 simultaneously in 1994. They quit their day jobs and eventually recorded 20 albums. Some of these explore medieval repertory, others introduce new music (such as love fail, written by University of Iowa graduate David Lang and premiered in Iowa City) - and some focus on Americana and folk music - including our 2015 critic's choice. Timed for the sesquicentennial of Appomattox, 1865: Songs of Hope and Home from the American Civil War includes  collaboration with singer/ fiddler/ banjo player Bruce Molsky.  In December, 2015, Anonymous 4 gave its farewell concert, which makes this album a finale. They "get" the style of this music as perfectly as they do 12th-century motets, and while the New York Times is right to call the album "poignant," it is also convincingly folky; I can see why it made four lists.

  Anne Boleyn’s Songbook: Music and Passions of a Tudor Queen  - Alamire/ David Skinner (Obsidian Records 71)  Four months after she married Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn gave birth to his daughter Elizabeth (yes, that Elizabeth, who was conceived long before the wedding). But Anne couldn't give Henry a male heir, and in the era of woman-as-chattel, she was blamed for her miscarriages; besides, Henry fancied his new mistress, Jane Seymour. He sentenced Anne to death on charges that seemed ludicrous even to her many enemies. Wolf Hall (the novel, play, and TV series) brought public attention to the Tudors, but musicologists already were thinking about Anne, since she was an accomplished musician and her private song book is a sort of greatest-hits anthology of the early 1500s. It was never recorded until now, and four list-makers were thrilled not only by the music but also by the performances of the superb vocal ensemble Alamire. Soloists include the glorious mezzo-soprano Clare Wilkinson and the noted (and Grinnell-trained) lutenist Jacob Heringman.  [ALPHABETICALLY this one should come first, but formatting issues require it to go second. Anne Boleyn still can't catch a break - in this case a paragraph break...]

 

As Dreams Fall Apart: The Golden Age of Jewish Stage and Film Music 1925–1955 - Julia Bentley, Ilya Levinson, Stewart Figa / New Budapest Orpheum Society  (Cedille 90000 151) The new medium of sound film was informed by the music of Yiddish theater and cabaret. This artistic world was vibrant, and as the Jews of Europe fled to New York, Buenos Aires, and Hollywood, they brought it with them.  Chicago's "New Budapest Orpheum Society" explores this remarkable repertory in German, Yiddish, and English with style, wit, and love.  Much of the repertory is comic, and this group does shtick (a word we owe to the Yiddish-theater diaspora) perfectly. This two-disc set is one of several from the adventurous Chicago indie label Cedille to make the "mega-meta-list" (read on for more).

 

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: Symphonies – Northern Sinfonia conducted by Rebecca Miller (Signum 395) - Bach's second son was a musical adventurer. Though admired and influential, his music fell into neglect over the course of the 19th century, but in recent decades has been a major rediscovery. The American conductor Rebecca Miller responds with sensitivity to his complex thought and mercurial emotional range, and the  Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (who were recorded, astonishingly, live in concert in a single take) play their period instruments like champions 

Johann Sebastian Bach: The Harpsichord Concertos - Andreas Staier, Freiburg Baroque Orchestra (Harmonia mundi 902181.82)  When Bach was in his early fifties, he drafted a collection of concertos for harpsichord, mostly reworkings of earlier piece for other instruments. Many harpsichordists have recorded them, but I often find that I can't quite hear all the inner voices in the harpsichord part - they tend to get swallowed by the other instruments or even the other keyboard lines - so I've tended to prefer great piano recordings by artists like Murray Perahia. But this new recording solves my problem. The harpsichord itself is big, rich, and colorful; the tempos, though lively, are a little less rapid  than has become typical, because the artists are characterizing the inner backs and forths.  I've rarely heard the slow movements played more beautifully. And the engineering is realistic but so clear that I can hear every line all the time.

 

 Ludwig van Beethoven: An die ferne geliebte; Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, vocal music - Mark Padmore, tenor; Kristian Bezuidenhout, fortepiano (Harmonia Mundi 902181.82) -  The New York Times tells us not to assume too much from the "ethereal sound and almost choirboy purity" of this British tenor, because he also "can sing with penetrating intensity." And Bezuidenhout is a major reason why the fortepiano, once the neglected stepchild of period instruments, is becoming widely accepted in a way that has eluded it. (See also Andras Schiff's Schubert set, in Part 1, and the Beethoven recordings of Ronald Brautigam, and this year, of Christopher O'Riley with Matt Haimovitz... but I digress.) 

Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphonies No. 5 & No 7 – Pittsburg Symphony/ Manfred Honeck – (Reference Recordings FR-718In 1993, the great Latvian conductor Mariss Jansons said, “You ask yourself, ‘why produce a new Beethoven symphony cycle? The market is full.'”  But market demand ain't everything. Since 1993, we’ve had about two new Beethoven symphony cycles per year (including a notable one from Jansons). Some were revisionist, with light textures, small ensembles, period instrument, limited vibrato, quick tempos, and literal rhythms, while others were more traditional. But in the last decade I've sometimes sensed a sort of "consensus" interpretation developing, that at a certain point can seem predictable; you forgot why these works once seemed to matter so much. That is not a risk with these live recordings of Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. These artists take nothing for granted, bring everything they have to grappling not only with why these particular notes are there but, more than that, with what they mean. The orchestra is big, and you feel the weight that's sometimes been missing in recent recordings, but without any loss of energy and propulsion. Above all, from the first note you feel that the performers are telling a powerful story, building and resolving a gripping human drama that engages with the big questions (as well as the details - you'll hear awesome things you never knew were there). And the demonstration-quality recorded sound brings its own pleasure.

 

Heinrich Biber: Baroque Splendor - Le Concert des Nations/ Jordi Savall (Alia Vox  AVSA9912): 2015 was a year of hits for a certain Justin, but in the classical world, we got the Fever for an earlier Biber, the Czech-born composer Heinrich Biber, the leading musician in Salzburg a century before Mozart, he inspired several great albums this year. The standout for four critics was a new recording centered on his 1682 Salzburg Mass, which has places of its own in the record books. It has 54 separate parts for voices and instruments, and while I know of an earlier piece with 60, that is just one movement - so Biber's full Mass probably has more notes than any work before it. The manuscript is huge; it was re-discovered in 1870 by a grocer who, legend has it, was just about to wrap vegetables in it when he noticed the notes, of which there were many. Their abundance creates a musical challenge: the piece can sometimes sound, to quote Matthew Westphal, "tedious and overblown." That's not even slightly the case in this new recording. The Catalan master Jordi Savall has conducted the works several times since 1999, and says that on listening carefully “we discover a very subtle structure and some surprising harmonic shifts as well as a rich abundance of motifs… We are enthralled by the breathtaking  emotion and guileless beauty.” I certainly was. The recorded sound is also extraordinary - the 54 musicians were spread out in different parts of a cathedral and you can actually hear it on even two channels. No audiophile should miss it, or the other marvelous pieces on the album.

  

  Johannes Brahms: The Piano Trios -  Christian Tetzlaff, violin; Tanja Tetzlaff, cello; Lars Vogt, piano (Ondine) This German violinist Christian Tetzlaff and pianist-conductor Lars Vog recorded one of my favorite modern Brahms CDs, of the violin sonatas, live on EMI some years ago; here they work with Tetzlaff's sister, the cellist Tanja Tetzlaff, in three of Brahms's most glorious chamber works. I haven't managed to get my hands on this expensive import, but four critics who did were thrilled, and I'm not surprised. The violinist overcomes a disability - neurodermatitis, which causes extreme pain in his left-hand fingers when he plays; this makes his musical achievement that much more extraordinary.  

Brahms Inspired - Orli Shaham, piano (Canary Classics 15 )  - This Israeli musician is the younger sister of the great violinist Gil Shaham and wife of St. Louis Symphony music director David Robertson -  but this project reminds us that she is a major pianist in her own right, who has won the most prestigious of awards. Here she combines the profound late piano music of Brahms with new works inspired by it, which were composed for her by Bruce Adolphe, Brett Dean, and Avner Dorman; she also includes music of Bach, Chopin, and Schubert. I haven't managed to acquire it yet, but four critics heard it and were so moved that they included it on their lists.

 

 Johannes Brahms: Serenades Nos. 1 and 2 - Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra/ Riccardo Chailly (Decca 478 6775) - Four critics found this recording of early Brahms delights so fresh that they included it among their favorites. Chailly is trying to re-evaluate Brahms using historical evidence, which can always be debated; I find his speeds too fast for comfort and prefer Chailly's model, Sir Adrian Boult, perhaps the most underrated great Brahms conductor. But Boult did not enjoy the glorious recorded sound this remarkable orchestra receives here, and for some listeners the performance were perfection.    

 Henri Dutilleux: Metaboles, L'Arbre des songes, Symphony No. 2 ("Le double") - Seattle Symphony, Ludovic Morlot, conductor (Seattle Symphony Media SSM1007) - The Seattle Symphony's recording of John Luther Adams's Beyond Ocean was 2014's most-honored orchestral recording; this year, Taylor Swift heard it and donated $50,000 to the orchestra. Anastastia Tsoulcias included Seattle's Dvorak Ninth in her own best-of-year list. What made many lists, though was this album. Seattle's young French conductor Ludovic Morlot, had  a long, close artistic relationship with the French composer Henri Dutilleux, whose centennial is in 2016. And his orchestra is in its element with this colorful, rhythmically complex music. This is the second album they've recorded by Duttileux, and here they're joined by one of the great violinists of our day, Augustin Hadelich, in  a violin concerto called "The Tree of Dreams." 

Eight Blackbird (with Nico Muhly and Bryce Dessner): Filament (Cedille 157)  - This new-music ensemble will celebrate its twentieth anniversary this year (time flies even for innovators!) and it still soars. Here it includes a live performance of Philip Glass along with a new work by Nico Muhly inspired by Glass (identified as the album's "benevolent grandfather"), two compositions by Son Lux, and a cycle by Bryce Dessner, who is best known as guitarist for The National but increasingly renowned for his classical compositions. It's another hit for Chicago's Cedille label, at least as far as critical reception goes!     

Ludovico Einaudi: Portrait – La Pieta/ Angele Dubeau (Analekta 8738) - The incredibly prolific and communicative Italian composer turned 60 in 2015, and a number of albums explored his music. A student of Luciano Berio, Einaudi has crossed many genre boundaries (you've heard his film and TV scores, and possibly his rock or folk music), but his concert music has more recently gained renown. Of all the options, this anthology by the Canadian violinist and conductor Angele Dubeau made the most lists, and appropriately so, since it gives an overview of Einaudi's work. Dubeau is a superstar in Canada but too little known here; this album is a fine way to get to know her as well as Einaudi.     

Mahan Esfahani: Time Present and Time Past - Mahan Esfani, harpsichord with Concerto Koln (Archiv 479 4481) - Born in Tehran in 1984, Esfahani grew up in the US, where he fell in love with the harpsichord. He is now a professor at Guildhall School of Music in London. His solo recordings (for the indie label Hyperion) won a Gramophone award and Diapason d'or, among other honors, and those plus his collaborations with recorder player Michala Petri earned him BBC Music Magazine Newcomer of the Year award and nominations for Gramophone's Artist of the Year - the first harpsichordist ever nominated. Now he has a contract with Deutsche Grammophon - he first it has signed with a solo harpsichordist in years. This first release showcases his colorful, songful playing and innovative programming. It mixes Bach (JS and CPE), Scarlatti (Alessandro and son Domenico as arranged by Geminiani), Steve Reich and Henryk Gorecki - and the mix somehow illuminates the disparate music. The result converted even some harpsichord-doubters, and made it onto four best-of-year lists.

 

Irving Fine: Complete Orchestral Works (Toccata Concertante. Notturno. Serious Song. Blue Towers. Diversions. Symphony) -  Boston Modern Orchestra Project/ Gil Rose (BMOP SOUND 1041) Another anniversary - the centennial of Irving Fine's birth in 1914 - gave rise to this collection, which features the same artists that recorded the Andrew Norman album praised in the earlier post. Like Leonard Bernstein, Fine was a Boston native who studied with the legendary French composer-pedagogue Nadia Boulanger; Bernstein conducted and admired his music. The admiration spread to four critics when they heard this recording and put it on the best-of-year lists.  

Joseph Haydn: Symphonies nos. 31 ("Horn Signal"), 70, and 101 ("Clock")  –  Scottish Chamber Orchestra/ Ticciati (Linn CKD 500) . This "hybrid" set mixes period brass and timpani, with modern strings. The 31st  Symphony uses four horns that evoke the calls of rustic "post-horns" - and the four players of "natural" valveless horns shine. The 70th is a neglected display of contrapuntal skill; the 101st, one of those he wrote for London, has a second movement evoking " flute-clock," a large-scale music box for which he originally wrote the theme. Ticciati takes it at a fast tempo influenced by period-instrument practice. The recorded sound is excellent and the booklet includes three excellent essays, one by the great music historian Richard Taruskin. Haydn buffs should hear it, and it's not a bad starter set for exploring Haydn if he's new to you. 

  Joyce and Tony Live at Wigmore Hall - Joyce DiDonato, mezzo-soprano, and Antonio Pappano, piano (Erato 2564610789) - You may remember Pappano from Part 1 of the Mega-Meta-List: the Verdi Aida he recorded in Rome was chosen for more best-of-2015 lists than any other release, and the Puccini album by Jonas Kaufmann had Pappano conducting again. Don't be misled by the name: Tony's dad was Italian, but Pappano was born in England and spent his teens in Connecticut, and his first gig was as a rehearsal pianist at the New York City Opera. As for DiDonato, she's from Prairie Hill, Kansas. These two consummate opera superstars are quite capable of having a great time on a recital stage and of making sure we do as well. This live recital begins with Italian-language art music, which they do with unsurpassed artistry, then turns to American music, much of it fun and much of it from Tin Pan Alley. The audience has a blast (as when Tony jokingly calls out the name of a pianist colleague after playing a virtuoso flourish); and so do we - and four critics who found it one of the best releases of the year.   

Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 9 – Budapest Festival Orchestra/ Ivan Fischer (Channel Classics SACD 36115) - Any new recording of this symphony faces a challenge: we already have over 150 existing recordings of every stripe, sometimes two, three or more from a single great interpreter like Leonard Bernstein. In his tempos, Hungarian conductor/ composer Ivan Fischer brings to mind the first recording ever made, by Bruno Walter and the Vienna Philharmonic. These artists gave the premiere of the work shortly after Mahler died, in 1938 just before the Nazi Anschluss, and it's a wild, intense performance. Walter came to hate the recording's sloppiness and perhaps its associations (his second, very different recording pleased him more). Fischer's tempi may be as swift in places as the first Walter, but his superb orchestra and vivid, responsive interpretation are very much his own. The recorded sound is unsurpassed, and its sheer lifelike realism may be part of why five critics put it on their best-of-year lists.  

 

 

  Carl Nielsen: Symphonies nos. 5 & 6 -New York Philharmonic / Alan Gilbert (Da Capo 6.220625) - In 2015, American conductor Alan Gilbert (aged 48) announced that he's leaving the New York Philharmonic after 2017 (he started there in 2009, their youngest music director ever). We don't know who will replace him or where he'll be gigging, but there's no question that the orchestra is playing magnificently for him. Also, in 2015, the Danish composer Carl Nielsen had a 150th anniversary; in its honor, Gilbert and the Philharmonic completed a cycle of symphonies. Alex Ross once called Nielsen the most unjustifiably neglected composer of the 20th century; I plead guilty, but Gilbert's cycle of the symphonies with his orchestra for the Danish indie Da Capo, thrilled many hard-to-please critics.  

Francis Poulenc: Choral music; Mass in G major; Chansons; Motets– Elora Festival Singers /Noel Edison (Naxos 8.572978)  In reviewing this album for Classics Today, David Vernier wrote that no similar choral music "more satisfyingly rewards the effort it takes [the singers] ...  in the sheer sensual pleasure and excitement of being 'inside' Poulenc’s incredible sound-world; and for the listener, you could say the same, just that the perspective is different." For a luxury ride to the inside of that sound-world,  this recording made Verner's best-of-year list, and four others. Of the performances, he says, "Whether conveying the joy, the sadness, or more reflective, prayerful moods and moments. Noel Edison and his [Canadian] singers have made perhaps their finest recording to date, a reference for choirs who follow and for listeners who want an important and enduring addition to their choral music library." As for the sound, it "capitalizes on the church’s excellent choral acoustics."

 

Maurice Ravel: Piano Concerto; Concerto for Left-Hand Piano; Gabriel Faure: Ballade  – Yuja Wang, piano; Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra led by Lionel Bringuier (Deutsche Grammophon 479 495)  The young Chinese pianist plays with energy, poetry and spark in the Ravel concertos and sings heartfully in the solo version of Faure's Ballade. (Now, let's hear her do the orchestral version, please?) The album leaves no question that she's a mega-talent and an accomplished artist who can play with subtlety as well as vitality.

  

Max Richter: Sleep  (8 CDs) and From Sleep (1 CD) (Deutsche Grammophon, various media) - Call it a gimmick or call it "functional music," but it sounded good to me: the gifted young British composer wrote a work literally intended to put you to sleep. Its premiere was played overnight for an audience that lay on beds. I have heard only the excerpts sampler; they are beautiful and calming. (I tried one track as a sleep aid and it didn't work. I plan to try some of the others. In any case, using me as the test subject is an unfairly steep test. I should add that the composer worked with a sleep researcher to make sure he was doing it right.) You can buy the full eight-hour version or a single disc of excerpts, and it is of so much interest to an alert music lover that it made four best-of-2015 lists.

 

Frederick Rzewski: The People United Will Never Be Defeated!; Four Hands. Ursula Oppens (piano), plus Jerome Lowenthal (piano) in Four Hands (Cedille 90000 158) - American pianist Ursula Oppens premiered Rzewski's revolutionary variation set in 1976; now she's recorded it again. Jed Distler writes, "Oppens' stupendous new 2014 recording for Cedille surpasses the earlier version in every respect... virtuosity, musicality, and insightful inspiration add up to the most gratifying People United on disc... No lover of 20th- and 21st-century piano music should miss this important release." And Cedille strikes again...

 Jean Sibelius: Various orchestral works -  Turku Philharmonic/ Leif Segerstam (Naxos 8.573300, but actually six separate CDs) 2015 was the 150th anniversary of the birth of the father of Finnish symphonic music, Jean Sibelius; his music is increasingly admired, and major recording projects abounded. But as Joseph Giunta of the Des Moines Symphony once pointed out to me, some of the best music of Sibelius is not in the canonic symphonies (which received several recordings) but in other arenas. Leif Segerstam is a Finnish composer, conductor, pianist, and violinist - he has composed 291 symphonies himself! - and with Finland's Turku Philharmonic released six discs in 2015 of Sibelius's neglected theater, ballet, and orchestral works. It's a major contribution, and made many lists; I'd recommend starting with the volume I linked to.   ...        

  John Taverner: Missa Corona Spinea – Tallis Scholars/ Peter Phillips (Gimell 46) You remember Anne Boleyn, right?  The one who had trouble with line breaks early on this list? Coincidentally, this entry has an impossible line break issue too at the end, and it features a mass that may have been performed for her spouse Henry VIII. That marriage was in any case ugly, but this music is anything but. Peter Phillips describes it as "a kind of treble concerto, packed with mind-blowing sonorities. If ever there was music to exemplify Shakespeare's 'Music of the Spheres', it is here..." Few mixed choruses are more at home in those heavenly treble spheres than the Tallis Scholars; in their 42nd year, this archetypal British chorus made many lists with their recording of Estonian modern Arvo Part - but this new recording came close behind in the tally. NOTE: PLEASE IMAGINE A LINE BREAK HERE, THANKS! (HONEST - IT IS THERE IN THE CODE!)     

Piotr Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker, complete ballet arranged and performed by pianist Stewart Goodyear (Steinway & Sons 30040- The young Canadian pianist Stewart Goodyear burst into critical awareness with an acclaimed cycle of the Beethoven piano sonatas a few years ago; but here he turns to a chestnut you may have heard so often that you forget its magic. (I haven't reached that stage - I still love it to pieces - but... ) The suite has been recorded in a two-piano version by, notably, Martha Argerich and Nicolas Economou - a must- hear - but the prospect of hearing the whole ballet on a single piano may sound dubious. Apparently, with Goodyear it's pure bliss, and I personally can't wait to get my hands on it. And while the sheer color of the original is part of its magic, Anthony Tommasini points out in the New York Times that hearing it in this piano version makes you notice how great the music is in every other way. Four critics loved it so much that it made their best-of-year lists.

  

 Antonio Vivaldi: The Complete Viola d'Amore Concertos Rachel Barton Pine, viola d'amore; Ars Antigua/ Rachel Barton Pine (Cedille 159) - Chicago-based Rachel Barton Pine released three albums in 2015 that demonstrated her wide artistic range (though not her full range: she's also in a heavy metal band that, I am told, made one of the finest albums in that genre). First came Mozart's concertos for violin,  on her modernized Guarneri with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields and Sir Neville Marriner,  and, unlike most violinists, she composed her own cadenzas (she told me about it, and you can hear the interview here). Cedille - yes, that indie Chicago label! - then released her period-instrument recording of the complete sonatas of Francesco Maria Veracini, which made three best-of-year lists. Then it gave us this one, which reached the threshold of four lists. It brings together all of Vivaldi’s concertos for the viola d’amore ("viola of love"),  a long-forgotten instrument with extra “sympathetic” strings that vibrate when the main ones are bowed. Vivaldi's ear for color is on display not only in the solo instrument but also in the accompaniment, which in one case is a wind band. Another pairs the instrument with a lute, which is played here by the great American plucked-string pioneer Hopkinson Smith.

  ______________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________ My 67 Sources [And if you know of others I inadvertently missed please let me know - I'll redo the tallies!  P.S.:  Sorry about the lack of line breaks - they are perfect in the HTML source code but for unknown reasons do not display. Not even expert software engineers could get them to.]   Allmusic.com Amazon.co.uk Apple Music Arkiv  ArtsDesk (Graham Rickson) ArtsFuse (Jonathan Blumhoffer) Audaud        Audiophilia Audiophile (Norway) Bay Area Reporter (Tim Pfaff)  BBC Radio 3 (Andrew McGregor)  BBC Music Magazine Award nominees Boston Globe  - Jeremy Eichler (gated) Classic FM Classical Candor (John Puccio) Classical Dark Arts (Will Roseliep) Classical MPR (Luke Taylor)  Classics Today Crossing Choir Colorado Public Radio Tyler Cowen  Culture Catch (Steve Holtje) Deceptive Cadence, NPR (Anastasia Tsoulcias and Tom Huizenga)  Democrat and Chronicle (Jeff Spevak) Diapason (France)  Jed Distler Earful  Europa  Fanfare Magazine Want Lists (31 of them; gated)  Five against Four Fool in a  Forest Forbes (Jens Laursen)  Ted Gioia Gramophone Discs of the Month (gated) Grammy nominations 2016  The Guardian (Andrew Clements) Headphone Commute International Classical Music Award nominees [many European critics] Ionarts (Charles Downey)  KFDC San Francisco Limelight (Australia) Chicago Reader (Peter Margosak)  Metroland (BA Nilsson) Herald Scotland (Kate Molleson)  Popshifter (J G Thirwell)  Rhapsody Musicphilesblog  New York Times (six critics)  The Observer (UK - Fiona Maddocks) Politics and Prose Bookstore Readings (Australia) The Rest Is Noise (Alex Ross, The New Yorker)  Saint Louis Post-Dispatch, Sarah Bryan Miller Second Inversion Iowa Public Radio Classical (Barney Sherman) Sinfini  Night after Night (Steve Smith) Jessica Duchen  Sunday Baroque (Suzanne Bona) Stationery Travels The Telegraph, London (three writers) Vodafone New Zealand Tribune (Chicago - John von Rhein) Washington Post (Anne Midgette) WBUR (Lloyd Schwarz)  WFMT (Lisa Flynn) MISSING: The Sunday Times of London (it’s gated, folks - if you know their picks, feel free to tell me!)